Metal Wakes

Indeterminable rumblings from the center of the sphere shook the watcher from his reverie.

The thief, time, was there overthrown and the weight of his waste disclosed, along with the true visage of the world.

Searing rays slithered from Ra’s incessant maw, gnawing the surface of a galaxial tomb; bleaching bone and peeling skin. Bacterial-skittering buried deep within the ambling mounds of electric meat. Viruses feeding upon the feaster. Parasite parasitizing the parasite which parasitizes the host. Every corpse, a mausoleum. Cities within vesicles and a great and invariable war beyond the tumbling drops of mildew which stain’d the willfully ignorant eye.

A countless constellation of savagery beyond the sensorium of the sapient.

He spied worshipers gathering about the splendid horrors unveiled, to bewail the deer, gutted and strung.

“Praise the horns and damn he who takes them.”

So they sang, even as they severed their babes from their fleshy beds, smiling toothy rhuem at the liberation of the act. Chasing imagined idylls, thought long-discarded, intangible as the demons which the shamans of old warded with smoke and chant, whose appetites the sorcerers sated with sacrifice upon the bloody altar of the earth, offering up the hearts of their kin to the worms and their brains to the pitiless thorns.

Still the idyll eluded them.

Then a rumbling. Earth shatters and shakes. Pistons shear and steam hisses with the intensity of a thousand mythic wurms.

Metal wakes with emnity and roughshod runs incarnadine.

The Citta Nuova and the Architecture of War

“Let us overturn monuments, pavements, arcades and flights of steps; let us sink the streets and squares; let us raise the level of the city.”

-Antonio Sant’Elia,  Futurist Manifesto of Architecture.


“I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms.”

-Lebbeus Woods, War and Architecture.


Whilst the name of Antonio Sant’Elia is not widely known, anyone who has ever seen Fritz Lang’s Metropolis (1927), or Ridley Scott’s Bladerunner (1982) has beheld the striking power of his legacy as his imposing and gargantuan, yet highly plausible, architectural drawings inspired the architecturally dense worlds of both films. Elia’s most well known works all come from his Citta Nuova (New City) series which the American experimental architect Lebbeus Woods described as, “perhaps, the most famous and influential [drawings] of the early 20th century.”

se-2b
Antonio Sant’Elia, Air and train station with funicular cableways on three road levels from La Città Nuova, 1914.

Lebbeus Woods is well positioned to critique and build upon the works of Sant’Elia, as he, more than nearly any other contemporary artist, embraced and carried forth the brilliant flame of Futurism which Marinetti first kindled in Italy in 1909 with his incendiary manifesto and which Sant’Elia further crystallized with his astounding architectural drawings and conceptual writings which brim to overflowing with the steel of mind and the light of purpose. Whilst, like most modern men, Woods certainly was not nearly so sanguine about the prospects of war as the Futurists (who glorified it as the hygiene of the world), he certainly understood its nature well, having dedicated many works to the torturous Siege of Sarajevo – the single longest concentrated attack on a capital city in modern history – which Woods witnessed first-hand. In 2011, Woods wrote of the conflict:

For anyone who saw the burning twin towers in Sarajevo, in the summer of 1992, which were attacked by terrorists bent on undermining the morale of the people of that cosmopolitan city, the attacks on the twin towers of the World Trade Center in New York, nine years later, with the same goals in mind, came as no great surprise. The fall of the Iron Curtain and the end of the Cold War had produced a new type of global struggle based not on vast armies clashing in the field, but on small-scale insurgencies attacking the centers of their enemies’ power, disrupting them, and thereby undermining their self-confidence and ability to dominate others. This new type of warfare was called terrorism. Its main weapon is creating fear in the enemy, both government and ordinary citizens, leading not to armistices, treaties, and other official instruments of reconciliation between legally recognized states, but to de facto victories, in which the insurgents hope to win economic or political concessions that strengthen them in their own domain or globally, in the sense that they are ever more feared and hence ever more powerful and influential.

One significant new feature of this new type of conflict is that opposing sides are not drawn along socio-political lines—one communist and one capitalist—as in the Cold War rivalry between two superpowers, but rather along religious ones. This is a throwback to the Middle Ages, and not Modern at all, except in terms of weaponry and techniques of command and control. The conflict now is primarily between Christians and Muslims. The attack on Sarajevo was carried out by a Christian insurgency against a Muslim majority. The attack on the World Trade Center in New York was carried out by a Muslim insurgency against a Christian majority. Both had the goal of degrading a way of life. Both attacks were attacks on the idea of the city itself.”

Woods’ sensitivity to the times, the city and to the cultural zeitgeists which shape it, is a attribution which he closely shared with Sant’Elia who in his Futurist Manifesto of Architecture, wrote:

“No architecture has existed since 1700. A moronic mixture of the most various stylistic elements used to mask the skeletons of modern houses is called modern architecture. The new beauty of cement and iron are profaned by the superimposition of motley decorative incrustations that cannot be justified either by constructive necessity or by our (modern) taste, and whose origins are in Egyptian, Indian or Byzantine antiquity and in that idiotic flowering of stupidity and impotence that took the name of neoclassicism.

These architectonic prostitutions are welcomed in Italy, and rapacious alien ineptitude is passed off as talented invention and as extremely up-to-date architecture. Young Italian architects (those who borrow originality from clandestine and compulsive devouring of art journals) flaunt their talents in the new quarters of our towns, where a hilarious salad of little ogival columns, seventeenth-century foliation, Gothic pointed arches, Egyptian pilasters, rococo scrolls, fifteenth-century cherubs, swollen caryatids, take the place of style in all seriousness, and presumptuously put on monumental airs. The kaleidoscopic appearance and reappearance of forms, the multiplying of machinery, the daily increasing needs imposed by the speed of communications, by the concentration of population, by hygiene, and by a hundred other phenomena of modern life, never cause these self-styled renovators of architecture a moment’s perplexity or hesitation. They persevere obstinately with the rules of Vitruvius, Vignola and Sansovino plus gleanings from any published scrap of information on German architecture that happens to be at hand. Using these, they continue to stamp the image of imbecility on our cities, our cities which should be the immediate and faithful projection of ourselves.”

How sharp and true do his words ring today! And, likely, well shall they ring unto the future. Both Sant’Elia and Woods share in their ruminations on architecture a delicate sensitivity to time and place, to the nature of the city and its shaping by the forces of a hundred thousand different traditions all vying for dominion (and nearly all ignorant or uncaring about meeting the needs of the evolution of human civilization). Sant’Elia, like all of his Futurist brethern, rejected these traditions as a supreme giving-in to decrepitude and decay, and instead opts to turn The City into a majestic symbolic representation of a “projection of ourselves as we are.” Reification of the present without delay! Woods doesn’t entirely agree (nor entirely disagree) as he writes in his piece War and Architecture,

“In going over what I wrote about this work [on Sarajevo] at the time—in 1993—I find it inadequate in its explanation of what inspired the designs, drawings, and models and what I hoped to achieve by making them. No wonder, I say in hindsight, that they were accused of “aestheticizing violence,” and merely being exploitative of a tragic human condition. I failed to put the work in the broader human context that it needed to be understood as proposals for architecture serving rational and needed purposes. I hope to correct—to the extent I can here—this failure.”

Woods is here throwing up a, “I would never aestheticize violence!” as if that were somehow criminal. We should hastily remark that aestheticizing violence is just as laudable (and potentially deplorable) as aestheticizing any other domain of significant human activity. Nevertheless, Woods, in a slightly less politicized context, writes of war:

Architecture and war are not incompatible. Architecture is war. War is architecture. I am at war with my time, with history, with all authority that resides in fixed and frightened forms. I am one of millions who do not fit in, who have no home, no family, no doctrine, no firm place to call my own, no known beginning or end, no “sacred and primordial site.” I declare war on all icons and finalities, on all histories that would chain me with my own falseness, my own pitiful fears. I know only moments, and lifetimes that are as moments, and forms that appear with infinite strength, then “melt into air.” I am an architect, a constructor of worlds, a sensualist who worships the flesh, the melody, a silhouette against the darkening sky. I cannot know your name. Nor you can know mine. Tomorrow, we begin together the construction of a city.”

Such vivacity, why Marinetti or Sant’Elia could well have written those words themselves and should surely laud them were they able! One sees here the convergence most starkley between Sant’Elia and Woods, the city is new because the city, to be a proper and well fitted city must always be new. Perfection is anathema for perfection is stagnation and stagnation is death. Thus they war with time and space itself, eternally, in, as Aaron Traywick once said, “The Endless Game.”

Logos Circular 5/19/2017

The Logos Club here presents a brief list of links to some of this weeks most enlightening, amusing and incisive pieces of writing from all across the web.

First up is

How To Make It As A Left-Wing Polemicist

which comes to us from the talented Hubert Collins of Social Matter. The piece is a ironic, caustic how-to list of dos and don’ts for how to become successful as a communist in contemporary Wiemerica. Mr. Collins amusingly notes,

E. Don’t stake out a firm position on immigration policy. While conservatives who oppose immigration are racists, identitarians who favor open borders don’t understand how that depresses wages. Never note both of these things at once–do so separately to hide your uncertainty about what to do about it.

Though one criticism we had of the piece was that he also writes,

F. Do be opaque. Use lots of jargon and obscure references to ensure newcomers won’t be able to just dive in. Throw around lots of words and phrases from grad school like: hegemony, false consciousness, late capitalism, conjuncture, etc.

NRx does precisely this (with good reason) and I’ve not heard much of an outcry about it. Though we here at the Logos are not mind-readers one might perhaps venture to guess that his point of contention was due to the fact that the socialist/post-modernist critic of the left has no precise demographic in mind whilst building his eldritch lexicon and merely does so for affectation and spectacle rather than effective communication.

At any rate it is a highly recommended piece and one that incisively dismantles much of the anti-dem Leftist project.

Next up is

A Quick History of the Russia Conspiracy Hysteria

from the insightful individuals over at EvolutionistX which chronologically details some of the origins of the resurgence of McCarthyite, Russian paranoia within the United States. Brief, but insightful, especially to those who may not follow politics with any regularity. Anon notes,

Russia is bad because they oppose US efforts to install Islamic fundamentalist governments in the Middle East, because they oppose gay marriage, and because taking Crimea is basically the same as Hitler’s invasion of Poland.

Russia is full of hackers. Assange is a Russian agent since he publishes information leaked from the US. Trump is a Russian agent since he opposes war with Russia.

Well… that’s neocon reasoning for you.

STEEL-cameralism v Steel anarchism.

Last up is easily the strangest but most unique entry in the list, Steel-Carmelism vs. Steel-anachism from Imperial Energy, a very interesting site dedicated to historically rigorous political theory (namely, Steel-carmelism). As one might assume from the title, the monograph deals primarily with the similarities and differences between Steel-carmelism and Steel-anarchism to determine which holds more future promise. Sites such as IE are exceptionally valuable as they offer a positive vision rather than merely negative critique (invaluable though it is) like the vast bulk of dissident/reactionary political/philosophical websites one is likely to encounter. Here IE critiques neoreactionary statecraft whilst simultaneously remarking upon the division of powers.

Divided power results in a weak, insecure, central power. This power will, nevertheless, immediately begin to centralise and consolidate its power by subverting, destroying and or absorbing all the other centres of power which prevent it from carrying out its four “feeding” functions. The paradoxical conclusion that neoreactionaries posit, however, is to remove as many barriers as possible for the state to achieve its functions – to have its “feed.”

For its sprawling incisiveness, Logos acknowledges Steel-carmelism vs. Steel-anarchism as its most highly recommended of the week.